tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN March 13, 2014 10:00am-12:01pm EDT
unveiled, the president said it was going to be easier to use than amazon, the rates will be cheaper than your cell phone bill, you will be able to keep your doctor. but again, the web site was just the tip of the iceberg. people are seeing higher premiums, and it's interesting, mr. president, as i was putting this together and looking about what remarks i would make, i hadn't even seen this morning's newspaper today, "wall street journal," today, thursday, march 13. sebelius, secretary of health and human services, says higher premiums likely in 2015, higher premiums. what did the president promise? he saidpremiums would go down. the web site was the tip of the iceberg, people seeing higher premiums now, and now our secretary of health and human services says higher premiums again in 2015. people have gotten notices of cancellation, over five million of those across the country. many people can keep their doctor. we're worried about fraud and
identity theft reported as a result of the web site and ongoing. and of course hire co-pays, higher deductibles, more money out of patients' pockets. well, there was a new report out last week that brings this additionally to the fore in terms of concerns that people are having, and it's even from people that supported the health care law originally. there was a report out last week by a major labor union talking about how bad this health care law is hurting its members. to put this into perspective, mr. president, this is a labor union that actually supported then-senator obama and endorsed him when he was running for president a number of years ago. and they supported the health care law. and now it's come out with -- this union has come out with a report that says the law's unintended consequence will hit the average hardworking american where it hurts. in the wallet.
you actually go through this report called "the irony of obamacare making inequality worse," just to read, it says "the a.c.a. threatens the middle class with higher premiums, loss of hours and a shift to part-time work and less comprehensive coverage." it goes on with examples of various individuals who were members of this labor union whose lives are being hurt by the president's health care law. one, a woman from the home state of the majority leader talks about her job as a housekeeper and how the web site, if she tries to buy the obama health care program, she says "the web site says she would have to pay $8,057 a year more to keep the insurance she has now. and this is $3.87 per hour pay cut for her." she said we work hard for our insurance. why should we have to take a cut in pay for it?
that's not what the president promised so it is not a surprise that the unions who endorsed the president and supported the law are unhappy with what they're seeing as the true results of the health care law. now, the democrat majority leader said that all the horror stories about the health care law are untrue. is he also saying these union leaders and the people who have been made reference to in the union report, that they're lying? is that what the majority leader is saying? is that what the leader is saying? is that what he's saying about a woman from his own home state? according to the media reports, the union said the law will inevitably lead to the destruction of the health care plans we were promised we could keep. and people remember the president's promises. they remember what the president said. everybody knows that the press has called the president's statement about if you like what you have, you can keep it, called it the lie of the year. more than five million americans
got cancellation letters from their insurance companies. it's turned out to be so embarrassing that president obama had to delay the rules that caused it. it's continued to be a big problem, so the administration is delaying the rule again. not until just after the 2014 election, but with the potential of going beyond the 2016 election as well. i mean, here we go. dozens of delays, each one of these -- this is the calendar number of 2013, 2014, more delays to come, another delay, another lawless obamacare rewrite. well, the obama administration continues to announce delays. we've seen one change after another to major parts of the law that are now politically inconvenient for the president. republicans warned that these were real problems, that they would hurt hardworking americans all across the country. i was on the floor during all of the debates talking about the problems to come with the health
care law, offering solutions, offering suggestions. every one of them wafs rejected because -- every one of them was rejected because democrats just didn't care. they only cared that at the second they realized that all their grandiose plans were actually causing more problems than they ever anticipated because they didn't listen. but the president had an event last week where he actually said that the law, as he said -- quote -- "is working the way it should." that's what he said. "working the way it should." that it's working the way it should after he made all these changes? is that what he means? working the way it should. so if it's working the way it should, why has the president had to change it so many times? does he not know what the rest of his administration is doing? does he not know what the rest of this country is seeing? is the president -- is he tkhraourbl or is he just -- delusional or is he just in
denial? i think the american people want to know and they deserve to hear from the president when he does this webmd interview. when president obama sits down to talk with webmd on friday i hope they ask him about a the changes and delays he's making to the law, whether it's working the way he said it should. i hope they ask him about how his health care law is going to reduce the time people can spend with their doctors if they can even keep their doctors. i hope they ask him about some of the ways the law is hurting americans and america. i hope the president answers that he's finally ready to make some of these delays permanent to start over again, to work in a bipartisan way to try to help patients get the care they need from a doctor they choose at lower cost. that's what health care reform is supposed to be about in the first place. i mean, it's so interesting, just pick up the papers and day after day the -- yesterday,
march 12, "health exchange signups slowed in past month." that was "washington post." "new york times," "health care reform enrollment falls short of goal with deadline approaching. signing up for insurance but well below targets." today interesting, because so many questions are asked of the white house and the secretary of health and human service and the headline in "politico" today, "white house playing dumb on a.c.a. enrollments." i think the president needs to come clean with the american people, tell them about what a disaster his health care law has become, how it has impacted their lives, how few people have actually been able to sign up or have been able to but have found that the cost is too high for them to sign up, and admit to the american people that when they talk about some of these numbers of sign signups many are
people who got cancellation notices, not newly insured individuals. a study last week shows only about one in four people that has actually signed up on the web site didn't have insurance before. the people this was intended to help, they're not being helped. many people are being harmed. it is time to work together, mr. president, to help patients get the care that they need from the doctor that they choose at lower cost. thank you, mr. president. i yield the floor. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
mr. durbin: mr. president? the presiding officer: the assistant majority leader. mr. durbin: i ask consent the quorum call be rescinded. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: mr. president, across the country every day millions of americans who are working in low-wage jobs, going back to school to increase their skills in order to pay their bills and take care of their families. they do their best to balance work and family obligations, but too many moms and dads really struggle with the high cost of quality, safe child care.
one out of three families with young children earn less than $25,000 a year, and child care can cost $4,800 to $16,000 a year. in many parts of the country, child care for two children now exceeds average rental payments. according to a recent report by child care aware america, in more than half the states, including my own state of illinois, it costs families more to put an infant in child care than to cover tuition and fees at a public college. low-income families spend almost half their salaries on child care. it's a significant part of a family's budget. the child care and development block grant is an important program that helps low-income working families with the cost of child care and after-school programs. this program serves more than 1.6 million children in the united states every month.
in illinois, more than 50,000 children receive support. as we learn more about the significance of the first few years of a life in a child's development, it's not enough just to improve access. we have to improve the quality of child care for young children. children in their early years are facing some of the most important moments of development, and their experiences in the first few years could literally shape their young lives. early childhood education gives kids the solid foundation they need, not just to kindergarten but beyond. working parents that don't have good options for quality child care face an unfair dilemma. just ask tabatha okimoto of chicago, illinois. tabatha has faced the challenge of finding adequate child care for her son since he was an infant. on days when she can't find a spot at the child care center, she hopes that may be a family member or maybe a neighbor will
be able to take care of him. she worries about losing hire job. she was almost fired because there were so many days she was late because of child care issues. even when she finds reliable child care, she still has a tough time figuring out how to pay for it. tabatha is a good mom, but she has got a lot of expenses and a low-income job. she pays her rent, her health insurance and other bills, an $800 monthly bill for her son to attend little fox day school. it's in lincoln square center. it would be too much for her to handle on her own. now, because of this program now being debated on the floor of the united states senate, tabatha's out-of-pocket costs are now between $250 and $375 a month for this daycare that i mentioned earlier at little fox day school. instead of $800, it's less than half. it's still a sacrifice to come up with $250 to $400 a month,
but at least she has a fighting chance to make sure her son has good daycare. more importantly, this program has given tabatha the peace of mind to know that her son's in the right place when she goes to work every day. it's been more than 20 years since we started this block grant. we need to update it. the grant program before us on the floor today, child care development block grant, would make much-needed updates to the law, expanding access to toddlers and infants of low-income families, strengthening health and safety standards and training, ensuring the program is meeting the needs of children with disabilities and expanding background checks for child care providers. i want to thank senators barbara mikulski and tom harkin who have been champions for children and working americans for all the work they put in this bill. i also want to thank senator richard burr on the other side of the aisle and lamar alexander as well for making this a true bipartisan effort. i hope my colleagues will join
me today when this bill comes up for a vote. this is the kind of bipartisan bill which we all should support. working moms and dads need the peace of mind of knowing that their kids are in a safe place that will help their children develop in the right way. mr. president, i ask this following statement be placed in a separate part in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: also december, i spoke about a news article that revealed another disturbing scamper pet waited by the for-profit college industry. -- perpetuated by the for-profit college industry. the article reported that corinthian colleges, a publicly traded corporation, that owns for-profit schools in the united states and canada, has engaged in deceptive job placement practices in order to artificially boost job placement rates and avoid scrutiny by its accreditors. it turns out corinthian schools are paying employers what they called an onboarding fee of $2,000 per student so that the
companies would hire their graduates temporarily and they could be counted as an official permanent job placement. corinthian college subsidiary schools have been criticized in the past for having high dropout rates, high tuition and some of the highest loan default rates in the nation. nearly 40% of corinthian college students who should have begun to pay their federal student loans in 2008 were defaulting on their student loans. this is the highest rate of any publicly traded company in that sector. yet, over the last ten years, corinthian colleges has been rewarded for its poor performance with $10 billion in federal student aid. on an annual basis, american taxpayers fund more than 80% of corinthian college's total revenue. this includes the salary of corinthian's c.e.o., jack
massamino, who received compensation of $3.1 million in 2012, thanks to the taxpayers. this was seven times the average compensation for presidents of public universities, which was about $440,000. corinthian also spent $400 million on marketing and admissions in 2013. about $3,700 for each newly admitted student. how can they afford it? because the taxpayers are subsidizing this for-profit college. corinthian's marketing strategy has come under scrutiny recently because it targets low-income people. why? if you are a low-income new student at corinthian, you alltelly qualify for a pell grant and a low-income student loan. they can't wait to get you to come through the doors, sign the papers and watch what happens
next. most of these students falter, fail, drop out, or if they are, i guess, lucky -- and i use that word advisedly -- they end up with a worthless diploma. these students attracted by the prospect of a better life and the dream of a college education end up far worse off, deeply in debt with nothing to show for it. eric parmes, an everest college grad, completed a nine-month heating ventilation and air conditioning repair program. what he ended up with at the end of it was a $17,000 student loan for a nine-month program on hvac and no job. after he graduated, he had to beg the career counselors at everest to set up some interviews. frankly, eric wasn't worth that much to them after he graduated. they wanted him to sign up for the loans. he did it and they lost interest in him. finally, he was set up by career services to work in a contract position laying electric wires. however, after less than two months on the job, he was laid off and cut off from any career
service counseling at this everest college, part of the corinthian operation. the school had effectively placed eric in a short-term internship program, and once it was over, there was no incentive for that company to hire him when they could vacate a space for another graduate who would get a $2,000 corinthian subsidy so their numbers would look better to the public and to the federal government. then everest could shuttle in another graduate for a part-time position leading nowhere. eric lost out on the deal, a $17,000 student loan for a worthless education at everest college, part of the corinthian family of schools. to get a georgia hvac contractor license, he needed to have significant work experience and references. no one would hire him with a degree from everest. everest college, part of corinthian, gave him a worthless degree. after reading the december
article and stories like eric's, i sent four letters. one was to the c.e.o. of corinthian, asking him to explain these practices and to outline steps his company was going to take to put an end to them. his response to me was not surprising but disappointing. corinthian c.e.o. jack massamino, the multimillion-dollar c.e.o., defended the school's policies and practices. he did admit that at one time three everest campuses provided incentives to employees. i want to go on and put the rest of this in the record. the presiding officer: the senator's time is expired. mr. durbin: i ask consent for one additional minute. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. durbin: i will yield to my friend from maryland, but i do want to put the rest of this in the record. mr. president, this is a scandal which has to come to an end. i tell folks repeatedly, if you want to know about for-profit colleges and universities in america, remember three numbers. 10% of high school grads end up at for-profit colleges. 20% of all the federal aid to education goes to these
colleges. 46% of all the student loan defaults come out of these colleges. these are worthless, by and large. there are some exceptions, but most of them are worthless, and we as taxpayers are being taken to the cleaners by this industry. when we don't have enough money to do the important things in america like medical research and assistance for education at good, worthwhile schools, we ought to say shame on ourselves for not taking a look at this for-profit college industry which is fleecing the american taxpayers, and i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. mr. cardin: first, let me thank senator durbin for his commitment on this issue. we know that education is the great equalizer in america. we know that there is major concerns on access to higher education because of cost and that we have to do a better job to make college education affordable, but we also have to
have accountability in higher education and to make sure that those institutions that are there are providing quality products to their students and are doing it in a an effective cost way, particularly when we are providing -- that is, the taxpayers are providing a lot of the aid that goes to those schools. mr. durbin: i would ask the gentleman from -- the senator from maryland to yield for just a moment. mr. cardin: i would be glad to yield. mr. durbin: i just had a meeting with some people from the pentagon, and we talked about military education. members of the military who are seeking education while in the military through the g.i. bill and such, and we talked about some of the worst examples of for-profit schools, and the best example i could come up with of worthy education through the military, university of maryland. they have been doing it for decades, and i steer all of my friends in the military and their families to your flagship university in your state. they do a great job. mr. cardin: i'm glad i yielded to my colleague for that comment. we're very proud of the university of maryland and their programs with the department of
defense. we believe it is a very cost-effective way and quality products. it's exactly what the gentleman from illinois is talking about. that is, we have got to get value for the dollar. we have to have accountability. i appreciate you bringing that to our attention. mr. president, i take this time to talk about the child care and development block grant bill that's before us, it will be before us soon. i want to congratulate my colleague from maryland, senator mikulski, for her leadership on this bill, senator harkin, senator alexander, senator burr. this truly is a bipartisan effort, and we very much appreciate it. the child care and development block grant is critically important. the last time we authorized this program was 1996. i know that very well because i was serving in the house of representatives at the time and had the opportunity to be the ranking member on the human resources subcommittee of the ways and means committee that
was considering the welfare reform and child care and how we could reward families for work and how our welfare system could become a transitional program rather than a permanent program that would allow people, particularly moms, to be able to get into the work force, stay in the work force and climb up the economic ladder. so as part of welfare reform, we recognize that -- recognized that we had to do things about the major cost concerns of someone, a mom, giving up her welfare in order to go to work. one of those issues was health care, and we passed transitional health care for people coming off of cash assistance, but we also had to deal with child care because child care is an extremely costly part of being able to get into the work force. so in 1996, we consolidated a lot of programs that were out there, we coordinated eligibility. there were different eligible
rules for many of these programs, and we simplified the rules so that we could get maximum dollars of help to people to enter the work force. the goal was self-sufficiency, through education, training and being able to get a job. well, today, under the ccdbg, under the child care development block grant program, 1.6 million eligible children. and it's not just a safe environment for those children because 70% of their parents are working. it's not just a safe environment. it's early childhood education. the children that are in child care will do better later in life. there are many studies that verify this. so this is a win-win situation. a safe environment for children so the parent can work and an educational opportunity for the children at the same time, and it pays off big time for the
work force. we find that there was a kind of study that was done that parents who had their children in child care for two years or more were more likely to remain in the employment field. so it's stable employment, health for the child and a win-win situation. the eligibility for the program cannot exceed 85% of the state median income. i want to know the type of people we're talking about that benefit from this. in maryland a family of two, the maximum income is $24,000. for a family of four, $35,000. in my state -- maryland -- the average cost for child care for an infant is about $12,000 a year. for a child over four, it's about $9,000 a year. you heard the income levels of how you're eligible for this.
it is clear that low-wage families cannot afford child care on their own. we need to help, and that's what this program does, so that they can move up the economic ladder and not be a burden on just cash assistance program. well, today, as we did prior to 1996, we have combined discretionary and mandatory programs for our child care. today it's $2.36 billion in discretionary spending, $2.9 billion in mandatory spending. the legislation before us also makes improvements, as it should. it allows the states to develop 13 specific health and safety standards such as first aid and c.p.r. to deal with knowledge on sids, sudden infant death syndrome.
it requires the states to do inspection of child-care centers, comprehensive background checks for those involved in child care. online information, more transparency in the program. and additional state flexibility on how they can set priorities within the child-care program. mr. president, that's exactly what federalism should be. the federal government establishes a broad policy that we want to see families self-sufficient. we want to make sure there's a safe environment for children. we want to make sure that we do this in a way that is consistent with our national priorities. we give the flexibility to the local governments, to the state and local governments to be able to do their priorities to meet the needs of their citizens. and that's what this bill does. let me just give you a real-life examples of how this program is critically important to our community. i want to talk about the judy
centers of maryland. we have 256 them. it is named -- we have 25 of them. it is named after congressman hoyer's wife judy who died of cancer in 1997. she was an advocate of comprehensive family support services. i knew judy very well and she was a dedicated leader to helping our children. let me give a couple specific examples from the judy center as to how the child-care grant program is critically important to their existence. according to the judy center testimony that they gave before the committee, they discovered a dad who lost his job and a mom only working part time. they couldn't make ends meet. they couldn't look for jobs or go on interviews because they had no child care for their two and three-year-old children. the judy center enrolled them in kin tker care, the child care partner and provided tuition assistance. since they lost their health insurance when their dad became
unemployed they were given an kaeupgs for the maryland -- application for the maryland chip program. the three-year-old had a health issue and was referred to the center who worked with her extensively. she also received tutoring services. dad is now employed full time we have safe child care. dad is employed full time. after much encouragement mom enrolled in adult education classes and receive her g.e.d.. she is now enrolled in the college of southern maryland to pursue an associates degree. the children are now in elementary school and are doing well in school. mr. president, i could tell you about many other success stories. it would not be possible without the child-care and development block grant program. that's why it's critically important that we reauthorize
the program. i see my colleague from maryland is on the floor, and i congratulate her for her leadership in getting this bill to the floor. not just getting this bill to the floor, which is important, but doing it in a way that we can get it passed in the united states senate and accomplish our objectives so that we can get women into the workforce, we can have early childhood education to help children succeed in life. we can help american families. and we can strengthen america. i urge my colleagues to support this legislation. i yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: mr. president, before my colleague leaves the floor -- senator cardin -- i want to really express my appreciation for his statement today, speaking particularly about the judy centers, which have meant so much in maryland to show the way you really do child care in a way that is
family centered, child focused and through the so-called wrap around services, help the child not only with all that's necessary in a well-run child-care facility, but by working with the family to strengthen the family, help the family perhaps even get the knowledge about other opportunities to improve their life, educational benefits, for example, and it's i think, a national model. if i had my way, i would like to adopt the judy center model throughout america. but this is what our -- so i want to thank you for speaking about it. i also want to thank you for your steadfast advocacy for children. the way you have worked for the children's health program, particularly the dental services from that little boy diamonte who died, you're a real fighter.
also the senator is well known for getting rid of lead paint poisoning in maryland. he wants the lead out of the bureaucracy, the lead out of the senate. and i thank him for his comments and let's move this bill. mr. president, the chair needs to lay down the bill. the presiding officer: morning business is closed. under the provisions -- under the previous order, the senate will resume consideration of s. 1086, which the clerk will report. the clerk: calendar number 309, s. 1086, a bill to reauthorize and improve the child-care and development block grant act of 1990 and for other purposes. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i'm going to give a recap of where we are and then note an absence of a quorum as we sort through our amendments. this is the second day of the
senate consideration of bill 1086, the child care development block grant reauthorization on which 1.5 million american children depend, including 20,000 from the state of maryland. we have been working on this bill for over two years, and now it's our second day of moving this legislation. really we've had an impressive amount of progress made. yesterday the senate agreed to nine amendments, three by roll call vote and six by voice vote. we had a great group of bipartisan amendments. of the nine adopted, three were sponsored by republicans, two by democrats, and four were bipartisan. the amendments yesterday improved the underlying bill. it streamlined early -- federal early learning programs. it made sure tribes get funding that they needed.
it required states to develop child-care disaster plans. and it ensures that cdbg, as it's known, also serves an often much overlooked population: foster care. we also had a healthy debate on the floor in which women senators came down to show their support for this bipartisan bill. so today we hope to continue our due deliberation of amendments. last night we identified approximately 29 to 30 amendments remaining. it would be the hope of the chair and the ranking member that sometime today, around 11:30, before the lunch, to move to votes. we would expect to have voice votes, possibly a roll call vote. and i will give a further
progress report. where we are now is we're, i think we've had the time line for all amendments is closed, and we're now sorting through those amendments to see which we can adopt by agreement, adopt by a voice vote and move ahead. i would also say to my colleagues, there are many who have excellent ideas about child-care issues, and some are relevant to children but not necessarily relevant to this bill. we would hope that we would focus on today as we wrap up the legislation, only on germane amendments to the bill. and those other ideas, as meritorious as they are for consideration, that they either be withdrawn, we find another
vehicle for discussion and consideration. we want to really thank our colleagues for the quality of the amendments that have been brought forth. it shows that the senate on both sides of the aisle have really been thinking about children and have actually been listening to this compelling need around child care and its availability, its affordability, its safety in helping children get learning ready. but not all of the amendments, though they're focused on children, are relevant to the block grant which is a voucher program to help low-income women qualify for child care on it. i will give further updates as the morning progresses and we sort through this. in the meantime, we invite senators to come to the floor and talk about this very important topic facing american families.
quorum call: mr. sanders: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from vermont. mr. sanders: are we in a quorum call? the presiding officer: the senate is in a quorum call. mr. sanders: i ask that the quorum call be vitiated. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. sanders: mr. president, let me begin by commending my colleagues, senator mikulski, senator harkin, senator
alexander and senator burr, for their hard work to reauthorize the child care development block grant. this is a modest piece of legislation, and i urge my colleagues to support it. but the main point that i would like to make this morning briefly is that even if this modest piece of legislation passes, it will not begin to address the very serious problems that we face in child care in our country and even more importantly in childhood poverty. mr. president, the united states is the wealthiest nation in the history of the world. unfortunately, despite our great wealth, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and
income of any major country on earth. we have more people today living in poverty than any time in the history of our country. most significantly and related to the discussion we're having about child care today, the united states of america has by far the highest rate of childhood poverty of any major country on earth. in my opinion, we have a moral responsibility to address that issue, and we should put our energy and our minds on focusing on how we eliminate childhood poverty in america. i will be offering an amendment
today which is a very, very simple amendment, and what that amendment says is that the president of the united states should submit a plan to congress which substantially reduces childhood poverty over the next five years. that's the amendment. that the president of the united states submits a plan to congress which substantially reduces childhood poverty over the next five years. i would hope and expect that we would have unanimous support for that amendment. mr. president, as you will recall, not too long ago, during the winter olympics at sochi americans who were there were shouting out to our great athletes, u.s.a., u.s.a., we're
number one. i think that's what many of us in america supported. we wanted our athletes in the winter olympics to be number one. but, mr. president, while we want to be number one in terms of our athletic prowess, while we want to be number one in terms of our scientific and intellectual accomplishments, while we want to be number one in terms of quick growth and prosperity, we surely do not want to be number one in the world in terms of childhood poverty, and that is where we are today with almost 22% of our kids living in poverty. and the reason, quite obviously, that we could not want to be number one in the world in terms
of childhood poverty is not only the moral issue of turning our backs on millions and millions of our most vulnerable people, kids who are six months old, kids who are 2 years old, kids who are 8 years old, human beings who cannot fend for themselves. it would seem to me as they carry people that we have the moral responsibility to make sure that all of our children receive the basic necessities of life and not live in poverty. so i think there is a moral obligation to make sure we eliminate childhood poverty, but there is also an economic reality as well. i'm going to get to that in a
minute, but the first point we make is that when we look at childhood poverty in america, which is 21.8%, we should examine what's going on in other countries. is it possible to go forward and significantly reduce or eliminate childhood poverty, and the answer is, yes, all we have to do is look around the world. in denmark, child poverty is 3.7%. in finland, 3.9%. in norway, 5.1%. in iceland, 7.1%. austria, 8.2%. sweden, 8.2%. germany, 9.1%. in south korea, 9.4%. united kingdom, 9.8%. france, 11%. new zealand, 13%. poland, 13.6%. canada, 14.7%. but in the united states of america, the childhood poverty
rate is 21.8%. mr. president, as i mentioned a moment ago, this is clearly a moral issue, a powerful nation, a nation which in recent years has seen huge increases in the number of millionaires and billionaires that we have, should not be a society in which almost one out of four of our kids get their nutrition from food stamps. we should not be a society where a significant number of young people are dropping out of high school, standing out on street corners and destroying their lives. but it is not just a moral issue. it is an economic issue. you tell me what kind of economic future we have when we are competing against countries around the world which are doing
a better job than we are in providing the intellectual and emotional support their kids need, that are doing a better job than we are in educating their young people, how do we compete against these countries in the international, very competitive global economy? do we say to the young children who were living in poverty sorry, we can't afford to provide the preschool education you need, we can't afford to provide the child care that your parents need, and we're really sorry that the odds are that many of you may drop out of school and that some of you will end up in jail. we have more people in jail in the united states of america than in any other country on earth, and clearly one of the reasons for that has to do with the fact that we have the
highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. you pay for these things one way or you pay for them the other, and the way that we are paying for it is by spending $50,000 or $60,000 a year incarcerating huge numbers of people rather than making sure that our kids get the nourishment, intellectual, emotional, nutritional that they need in order to do well in life. mr. president, it is important for us to look at what happens around the world, to see what we can learn, to see what is working well around the world, and it is important for us to learn and to understand that in countries like denmark, finland and norway where childhood poverty is very, very low, child care is free to all of its
workers. workers in these countries get paid maternity leave. that means when mom has a baby, she has the opportunity to stay home with her baby during the most important months of a baby's life, and not have to worry about going to work and making a living, because those societies have said the right thing, that they want kids and mothers to bond and fathers to bond well, for those kids to do well. in this country, if you're low-income and working class and have a baby, you have to get to work right away, because if you don't have that income, how do you take care of your families? those countries have done the right thing, and it's important that we learn from them. mr. president, in many countries around the world, workers get allowances from their governments to take care of their children. their workers are guaranteed a
paid vacation. health care is a right and not a privilege for their citizens. in france, for example, if both parents go back to work after having a child, they are entitled to receive strong child care benefits. in germany, hard for us to believe, but if children get sick, their parents get up to 25 days of paid leave to stay home and take care of those children. these are just a few of the many, many benefits that people in other countries, our competitors, receive. maybe we can learn something from that. unfortunately, mr. president, workers in our country, in this great nation, have none of those benefits, and here is what has happened as a result. more than one in five children in america live in households that lack consistent access to adequate food because their parents don't make enough money. in other words, the number of
millionaires and billionaires are growing. more and more income and wealth inequality. and millions and millions of families today who are raising kids are wondering how they are going to have enough food on the table to provide basic nutrition to those kids. should that be happening in the united states of america? mr. president, the number of homeless children living in america has gone up by 73% since 2006, at every state in the country, in my state of vermont. there are families living with their kids in cars or in emergency shelters. is that the way we give kids the opportunity they need to advance in their lives? mr. president, what the psychologists tell us over and over again, that the most important years of a human being's life in terms of intellectual and emotional
growth, are those years between zero and 4, and yet in this country today, less than half of 3 and 4-year-olds are enrolled in preschool. 96% of infants and toddlers living in low-income families don't receive the early education they need through the early head start program. more than 220,000 american children are currently on waiting lists for child care assistance, and on and on it goes. what does this mean in english? this is what it means. it means in vermont, it means in new jersey, it means in maryland, it means in states all over this country a mom and dad wake up in the morning with a 3-year-old, and they are worried about the quality and affordability of the child care they can find for that kid. so they go to work and they're saying what is happening? i have to go to work, can't stay home with my child, we need to
make money, yet i cannot find quality affordable child care for my child. and in this country, that is exactly what we should be providing. mr. president, according to a recent study by the children's defense fund, childhood poverty costs this nation at least $500 billion each and every year in extra education, health and criminal justice expenses and in lost productivity. in other words, rather than learning what other countries are doing, investing in our kids, nurturing our kids, making sure our kids get the great education they deserve, we turn our backs on millions of kids and then we are shocked, just shocked that they turn to drugs or crime or self-destructive activity, and we spend a fortune incarcerating them. think about all of the intellectual and emotional
destruction that takes place in this country because we ignore the needs of our children. mr. president, when we hear our fellow senators come to the floor and talk about how the united states is the greatest country on earth, i share that sentiment. but i do not believe that the greatest country on earth should have by far the highest rate of childhood poverty in the industrialized world. mr. president, the amendment that i have offered is a very, very simple amendment. i would hope that it is accepted. i hope that it would be supported unanimously. and i hope that it will allow us to go forward. and what the amendment says, again, is very, very simple. it says that the president of the united states should submit
a plan to the congress which allows us to substantially reduce childhood poverty in the next five years. that's it. so with that, mr. president, i would yield the floor and hope very much that this amendment is passed. thank you. i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
ms. mikulski: mr. president, i ask that the call of the quorum be vacated. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: mr. president, we're in the process of sorting out the amendments that are pending, again, to see what we could accept by u.c., what we could accept by a voice vote and those that might require that. the chairman and the ranking member of the bill, senator harkin and alexander, are discussing this. and we are looking forward to some type of votes on or about 11:30. but i see that there's a lot of amendments out here about streamlining this and duplicating this and others very thoughtful. but i'm going to clarify exactly what is the community development block grant program. this is a program that meets a particular need to help people have access to child care which
we are strengthening the quality requirements. it doesn't solve all of the child-care requirements in the united states of america. the overall need for child care for both poor women and middle-class women or families is well known. it is one of the agonizing choices that families need to make. the child-care development program -- and this is why we're looking at a variety of other issues. we have on the books the child-care tax credit bill which many of us hope to expand the deduction. senator gillibrand has others. but today we're focused on the child-care development grant. it is the primary federal grant program to provide child-care assistance for working families. it was passed originally in 1990
under george walker bush. before 1996, there were four child-care programs for low-income families. all of them had different eligibility criteria and work requirements, exactly what we've talked about here. the need to streamline. three were targeted to families at risk. one was targeted to low-income families. but in 1996, under welfare reform, on a bipartisan basis, we created one unified program to serve low-income families with one set of eligibility criteria and work requirements. it was then streamlined. the overarching purpose of the child-care bill was in welfare reform was to give parents, a, substantial assistance so they could go from work -- welfare to work -- or get their training to
it. it's been a very stkefl -- successful program. a million and a half children in america benefit from it, 20,000 in maryland alone. a substantial waiting list if we had more vouchers. well, what we're doing here in this bill is reauthorizing, following the spirit of 1996, streamlining and take now what we've known, best knowledge and new knowledge and best practices of how to help children in child care be able to be safe, a sense of security and stability and then also enhance their ability to learn. we know now, all the research says from toddler to infancy to five is one of the greatest growth spurts for the brain development in a person's life.
vocabulary development, many other things that occur. so what our bill does is help improve that. but we don't so overmandate to the states that we don't allow for local flexibility. so we're trying to streamline the bill, have a better emphasis on quality without stringent new federal mandates. and at the same time streamline this legislative process by moving through our amendment process. so i now look forward to conferring with my colleague. the members should stay tuned. if they would like to speak to this on the matter of child-care process, we would welcome them. we've had an open dialogue, opened process, open floor. i think this has been very constructive. mr. president, i yield the floor
and note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: will the senator withhold? mr. burr: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from north carolina. mr. burr: i thank my friend and my colleague for withholding on that quorum call. mr. president, we've made tremendous progress. our joint staffs worked well into the night with members who have bills, amendments to this bill which they think improve the bill. and we have worked aggressively to try to work out as many of those as we possibly can, and i'm here to report to our colleagues we've made tremendous progress. we've processed since we started yesterday, a number of amendments, and this bill has become better. we still have several on both sides that we're still working with our members to try to accommodate their intent with language that is acceptable and continues to improve this bill. and we will do that.
let me say to our colleagues who still might have amendments, if you've got them, we need you to come to the floor. we need you to offer those amendments. if you've got amendments that have yet to be cleared, i would urge you to come to the floor and work with senator mikulski and myself and our staffs to figure out how we can process those in a timely fashion. it is our intent that in approximately one hour, with the agreement from our leaders, that we would move to votes, both recorded and voice votes on all amendments that remain on this bill in hopes that members could then leave to their caucus lunches, and after returning from those lunches, hopefully we would be in a position to have final passage on this legislation. again, that's with the chair, the ranking member and the leaders' blessings. but that's certainly the intent
of senator mikulski and myself. we can only do that if in fact those members who want to offer amendments offer them and those that still have some to be worked out come and try to work out those differences. so i would urge my colleagues now, we've got over an hour before we intend to move to a period where we might process the remainder of the amendments. we would like to be in a situation where we can give certainty at least as it relates to the disposition of this bill to our members that we would finish shortly after the lunch. i encourage all of our colleagues if you've got interest in this bill, come to the floor and work with us. i yield the floor and suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. quorum call:
ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: i note the absence of a quorum -- i mean i ask that the call of the quorum be withdrawn. the presiding officer: without objection. ms. mikulski: mr. president, i just want to give an update. we had originally thought we would be voting at around 11:30. we're going to delay that until on or about 12:15. nothing fixed, nothing mandatory. and people say well, what are you all doing? look at the senate floor. where's the action. this is a compelling issue. actually, there is a lot of action going on in the sense that we are reviewing the over 20 amendments that are still outstanding to see what could be
accepted by unanimous consent, what could be accepted by a voice vote and what requires a mandatory vote. so there is a lot of discussion going on, and senators and their staffs are talking. it's not to be debated. it's to be discussed right now. i think it's so healthy. this is one of the first times in a couple of years where we have had an open amendment process, and in some ways we're getting adjusted to how that actually works. this is terrific. so just because you don't see senators in intense debate, they are in intense conversation about how do we help children, how do we not create new bureaucracy, how do we have a sense of always saying child focused and yet not creating lots of new mandates or whatever. so this has been really very
good. i want to compliment senator harkin who is the chair of the full committee of health, education, labor and mentions. it was under his leadership that senator burr and i could hold some hearings and participation, but his advocacy for children is so well known, and if we can move this bill today, we will have accomplished two major goals. we would have reauthorized the child care development block grant, made imimprovements and new reforms and refreshed the program, and at the same time i think we would have improved the process in the senate to show that we can govern by moving bills, by offering amendments, by discussion and by debate. but we couldn't have done it if senator harkin had not been willing to establish such a great tone, working then with senator enzi and senator alexander while senator burr and i did this.
this is -- this is the way the senate ought to be. there were differences. there were differences, but differences doesn't mean that you have to have -- be filled with rancor and ranting all the time. at the end of the day, when -- after all is said and done, people want us to get more things done and less things said. mr. president, i note the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: the clerk will call the roll. mr. harkin: i ask that the proceeding of the quorum call be dispensed with. the presiding officer: without objection. mr. harkin: mr. president, i -- again, a lot of work has gone into this bill, and the person who led that whole work for over two years' period of time was senator mikulski. i just happen to be chair of the committee. but with senator mikulski and senator burr working together to really bring this to fruition, and it is a good bill.
senator alexander is always saying that our committee probably has the biggest divergence ideologically of any committee in the senate, and yet we have reported out i think 19 bills out of our committee, ten of which have been signed into law during this congress. we're able to do that because people work together and we work things out, and that's what's happened with this bill. there are a lot of crosscurrents on this bill. i bet there are a lot of things that senator mikulski would have liked to have had in the bill, that i would have liked to have had in the bill. i'm sure i can say the same thing on the republican side. but over at least a two-year period of time -- i know it's at least that long, senator mikulski, that you worked on this -- we made our agreements, and we worked it out to the point where the bill passed our committee unanimously.
and we have, as i said, a wide diverge yens of ideological views on our committee. and so here's a bill that passed unanimously. we are on an open process here of debate and deliberation and amending. i think at this time we have a pretty defined universe of the amendments. unless unless something else pops up i tonight know about. the staffs are working on those now with senators, and i guess, you know, look, any legislation that comes through, you know, let's face it, as senators we probably would like to change something here or change something there. i understand that. i've been here a long time and i know that i've wanted to add an amendment to something to change it, to do something different maybe that i cared about.
but in the interest, in the interest of the broader perspective of the legislation at hand, i didn't offer it. i'd wait till some other point in time maybe to offer it or to find a different pathway. and that's i guess what i'm asking senators to think about here on both sides of the aisle. that we have a great bill. it's sorely needed. it updates a law that hasn't been changed, i know senator mikulski has said this many times but bears we peteed, we haven't addressed this since 1996 and a lot has changed in our society since 1996 in terms of childcare. and so this bill updates and modernizes, does some things that's going to move us ahead better in this country because of a childcare and development block grant program. i know different people have different ideas, i'd like to change this or modify that. i get it. i understand that.
but if there is a problem in terms of bringing that amendment up that might jeopardize the bill, i ask senators to consider whether or not their interest, whatever that might be -- and legitimate, it might be lig he legitimate interest, i'm not saying it's not legitimate -- but if that upsets the balance that we have worked out here in this committee with this broad ideological spruk, i ask them -- spectrum, i ask wheern they're willing to jeopardize this bill which i think we're very close to passing. key could pass this bill this afternoon. i ask senators if they have those kinds of amendments to reconsider maybe the broader implications of this legislation and whether or not they would want to jeopardize it for their legitimate interest, as i
said, i don't deny any senator the right to offer an amendment and to push an interest that he or she might have, and some of them i might agree with. i might even agree with some of those. amendments. but if it really jeopardizes the bill, then i would have to say no, i wouldn't support it because of the broader interests of getting the bill passed. so i hope that -- i hope, mr. president, that working with senator mikulski and her staff and senator alexander and senator burr, my staff, are working together on this now, i still hope that we can bring this bill to fruition sometime early this afternoon. mr. president, i yield the floor and note the absence of a quorum. i'm sorry. the presiding officer: the senator from washington. mrs. murray: i have 12 requests for committees to meet during today's he session of the senate. i ask unanimous consent these
requests be agreed to and printed in the record. the presiding officer: without objection. mrs. murray: mr. president, i come to the floor today, i wanted to thank the bipartisan leadership that has brought us to the place today where are where we are considering reauthorizing this important childcare and development block grant bill. in my home state of warrick there is a young woman named janelle and she was looking for opportunities to support her family but before she could go back to school or participate in a job training program so she could advance her career, she had to find affordable childcare for two of her children. thankfully, with the assistance of this childcare and development block grant program she was able to get subsidies to cover the cost and she now works. she works part time and she's attending school and becoming a surgical tech. this federal grant program expands opportunities to parents like jan el and so many across
our country by helping them with the cost of childcare. and that's why i'm here today to support this effort to reauthorize the childcare and development block grant program. mr. president, we all know the cost of childcare has soared in recent decades. the census bureau found that childcare costs have nearly doubled since the mid 1980's and that high cost hits low-income families especially hard. for working families who live below the poverty line, the cost of childcare can eat up more than 30% of their monthly income. for single parents, if you only have one income, it it is an even bigger burden. when low-income parents don't have access to reliable and affordable childcare, they can't work. they can't go back to school, they can't advance their skills with job training, they are stuck. and that as we know is particularly problematic for women. women are more likely than men
to cut back their hours at work or quit their jobs altogether so they can take care of their children. and in the long run, that puts women on an uneven playing field with their male counterparts both in terms of earnings and opportunities to advance in the workplace. so we have got to break down those barriers. we need to make sure that working doesn't become cost prohibitive for parents. and we've got to strengthen access for low-income families so they can get affordable quality childcare. this bipartisan childcare and development block grant act is part of the solution. these grants expand opportunities for parents with low income, it allows them to work or go to school or get job training, all with the peace of mind that their kids are taken care of in a safe childcare setting. you know, back in 1990, president george h.w. bush signed this grant program as we know it into law.
and today it helps 1.6 million kids get childcare. to participate, a parent has to have a job or be enrolled in school or a job training program. that has helped countless parents across our country and i want to mention just a woman who has contacted us, a single mom, her name is star, she lives in a rural part of my state. she wants to advance her skills to support her family like so many people do today. and with this assistance she was able to go to community college, an hour away from her home, knowing that her kids were okay in a reliable childcare program. there is nothing more important to a parent than the safety and well-being of their child. i have said many times you do a better job at work if you know your kids are safe. if you're worried about what your kids are doing okay, you can't do a good job where you work. so reauthorizing this program is a critical part of this and helps parents like star feel
comfortable when they are away from their kids. so, mr. president, in this reauthorization bill we're looking at ways to improve these grants and we know that stability is critically important for a young child's development, and before -- but before kids could lose their spot in childcare if their parents didn't meet the eligibility requirements, even temporarily, that disruption in care is exactly what we needed to work to avoid. i've seen this a lot on my work on behalf of foster kids and military students and homeless children. these are highly mobile populations. now with this legislation and the work that's been done we've ensured that these kids have a mandatory 12 months to access care so they don't have that disruption of stability in their lives. and i think that's critically important. this bill also reduces barriers for homeless families to access
childcare and will train more childcare providers in identifying and serving homeless kids and families so they can get their support they need and i really appreciate the inclusion of those provisions. so for many families it can be very difficult, mr. president, as we know to find quality childcare. this legislation authorizes a toll-free hotline and a went so parents can -- web site so parents can get and find quality childcare in their community and those provisions are why i'm such a strong supporter and so delighted we're at the point where we're able to pass this critical piece of legislation. let me just end by saying back in washington state there is this young couple, edward and constance. they are struggling to make ends meet on a very low income. necessity are working, studying to make sure times won't always be as tough as they are today and because of childcare assistance with this grant money, edward now works full time and constance isn't work
working at her part-time job, she is training to become a dental assistance -- assistant. supporting parents like this, making sure their kids are in a safe quality childcare program is what the grants are about in this program and i really urge our colleagues to support this legislation and, again, thank the senators who have participated in making this a strong bipartisan proposal. with that i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from tennessee. mr. alexander: thank you, mr. president. i want to thank the senator from washington for her comments and her leadership on the health, education, and labor committee as well. and she has been a consistent spokesman for children, especially for homeless children, and i want to make an observation about the childcare development block grant that the senator from new jersey will i think especially find of interest because of his work with children and with schools
in new jersey. we've heard this morning a great deal of support for the childcare development block grant which is a pretty remarkable piece of legislation in terms of the way it's structured if you'll think about it. it's been around for about 20 years, but it takes $5 billion to $6 billion of federal dollars and gives it to states, a block grant with a lot of flexibility and then the money is distributed by vouchers to individual parents, low-income women mostly, who then choose among thousands of certified childcare centers. now, that i would argue, while it was done 20 years ago, fits the internet age. newt gingrich, i sometimes accuse newt of being vesuvian in his qualities because he has a steady flow of new ideas has done some interesting work recently and he quotes a
computer programmer named o'reilly, tim o'reilly, who made a suggestion for how the internet could transform government. and mr. o'reilly said the best way for government to operate is figure out what kinds of things are enablers of society and make investments in those things. the same way that apple figured out if we turn the iphone into a platform outside developers will bring hundreds of thousands of applications to the table. in a way, the developers of the childcare and development block grant in the early 1990's under the first president bush were ahead of their time. because rather than having big, burdensome programs from washington with lots of rules from here, we have a piece of legislation that survived for more than two decades that helps a million and a half children this year, and it enables people like the mother in
memphis i talked about on the floor yesterday who became eligible for childcare voucher in tennessee, she was at lemoine-owens college studying for her business degree. she was able to place her infant in a childcare center of her choice, the state gave her $500 to $600 a month, and she earned her degree and she now is assistant manager at wal-mart and that child is now 5 and she has that child in the same childcare center but she can afford to pay for it herself. that's a perfect example of enabling her, using taxpayer money, to enable her to -- to move up the economic ladder and to reach the american dream, to succeed rather than making her do it or mandating her do it, we enabled her to do it. we also do that and we've done it very successfully since world war ii with college grants and
loans. which also have virtually unanimous support here in the united states senate. both both sides of the aisle. beginning with the g.i. bill in 1944, the g.i. bill for veterans, we've given vouchers to veterans and they could use those vouchers, those vouchers would follow them to any educational institution of their choice. at the beginning many of them went to high school. some of them went to colleges overseas. that was the beginning of our current system of support for federal -- federal government for grants and loans and now half our college students have a grant or loan lone to help pay for colleges and all of them follow them to the institution of their choice. that's a lot of money, over $100 billion in loans every year, new loans and it's $33 billion in pell grants each year. so we have enabling -- we followed tim o'reilly's
discussion there as well. we haven't set up a lot of complicated washington programs and managers, we've simply said if you're eligible and you go to an acred -- accredited institution whether it's public or private or yeshiva or notre dame or tennessee or rutgers, the money will follow you to the college of your choice. what we've done since world war ii with college stiewntsd students and since the area of george walker bush with children, we've given them tickets to the institution of their choice. but what have we done in the middle of that? we've got vans for college students and for children? but what about students who go to elementary school? what about students who em to at students who go to high school? especially what about low-income students trapped in poor schools? our child-care vouchers are for
low-income mainly women. oour vouchers for college students are for low-income students. we call those pell grants. but we give our k-12 money to the schools instead of allowing it to follow the student to the school of their choice. i have always wondered, if we've had such a success with the g.i. bill and the pell grant add the child-care voucher, why don't we try it with kindergarten through the 12th grade. many enterprising mayors and governors have tried that, usually facing resistance from people who see something un-american about vouchers. not very un-american if it is a pell grant, g.i. bill, or child-care voucher. i've introduced something almost like the child care development block grant for students who are in the elementary and vacked
schools. it would take 80 secondary programs that spend about $24 billion a year and say to new jersey or tennessee or iowa, you can take all that money, whatever your share of that is is and create a $2,100 scholarship for every child in your state below the federal poverty level, and it can follow that child to whatever school you and your state asip assign . if you live in a city or state where you want the child to be able to go to any accredited institution, public or private, the way we do with pell grants, you may do that. but noble federal dollars for elementary and -- i but if you believe that federal dollars for elementary -- the idea would be that we would enable the low-income children, the ones who are below the federal poverty level -- and
there are 11 million of knows our country -- we would allow us to pin $2,100 to their shirt and follow that child to the school. i think we know what happens. those children may need to be in school longer each day. they may need a meal. they may need to be there during vacation time. they may need to be there in the summer. if the teacher has the extra money and freedom to use it, that gives that school more autonomy and that helps that child succeed. does every school succeed at the same rate? no. not every college succeeds at the same rate. not every child-care center succeeds at the same rate. but if we have 70 years of experience with colleges by creating autonomy and choice and letting the money follow the students to the school and people all around the world tell us we have the best system of colleges in the world, why don't we try with our schools? so i want to observe here -- and i see the senator from oklahoma,
and i'll wind down so he can wind up, and i thank him for his contribution to the debate. but i just wanted to observe while we're in the middle of so much testimony about what great thing the child-care development block grant is, vouchers to little children who are poor, and while we all believe that pell grants are a great idea, vouchers to college students who are low-income, should we think about doing exactly the same thing with elementary and secondary schools as way to help them to succeed, simply giving governors and state legislators and educators the opportunity to say, give us that share of our $24 billion? give every one of our children below the federal poverty level $2,100 each and let us decide how it follows them to the school they attend. so i wanted to make that observation. i'm delighted to mow that the senator from new jersey is presiding todayer because of the work that he's done in his state
in that eamplet i thank the president and i yield the floor. the presiding officer: the senator from maimpletd. ms. mikulski: i suggest the absence of a quorum. the presiding officer: i'm sorry, the senator from oklahoma would like to -- ms. mikulski: oh, i'm sorry. i didn't realize that the senator -- i thought the senator from oklahoma was involved in a conversation with the senator from iowa. mr. coburn: i was. but i'd like to speak, if i might. ms. mikulski: no way we'd want to inhibit the senator's ability to speak. the presiding officer: the senator from oklahoma. burn mr. coburn: i was going to call up my amendment because the plan on the manager of the bill is to table t i am going to talk about what it is and just make a few observations. observations four years ago we got the g.a.o. to start a process on duplication to look
at what we're doing in a multitude of areas across the whole federal government. for the first time they will have taken a complete look. one of their recommendations w was, according to early learning and child care programs within eight different departments, 45 separate programs, eight different departments within the administration, 4r5 separate programs spending $16 billion a year. and the amendment that i was going to put up would have forced us to do the metrics, to look at what our outcomes are, would have forced us to consolidate other than major programs like this one that we're debating today, which has been markedly improved and enhanced, but i understand the will of the senate. i don't want to put the senate
through a timely vote ch i know people would -- we know what the outcome would be, so i won't call that amendment up. but i'd remind us, the only way we're ever really going to get control of our budget is to do the hard work of eliminating duplication so that when we have a program such as the one that the manager of the bill has on today, that it's really directed, it's focused, it has metrics and we know what we're getting for what we're spending. but most people don't realize we have 45 of these programs in eight different departments spending $16 billion a year. and so what i would hope that we would take back and consider that this is a great movement on this one particular bill. and i congratulate the people that worked on it, both senator harkin and his staff and burr and alexander and their staffs because i think you've done a good job. but it's not enough because
you're still going to have 44 other programs, and you're still going to have programs that don't have a metric on it, that we're spending money on that we don't know if effect ago effecting and accomplishing what we want them to accomplish. so the whole purpose of the amendment was to force us to do that. and i understand that's not going to move, and i'm fine with that. i'll work in every other way behind the scenes to try to accomplish the same purpose. mr. harkin: will the senator yield? mr. coburn: i would yield for a question. mr. harkin: first of all, i just want to say, imansed on the floor the other day that i spent this weekend in iowa at two early learning -- and what became clear to me is the number of different conduits of funding and the different programs and the different qualifications and requirements and paperwork. i said at the same time, i said, i'm confused. he said, if you think you're
confused. how do you think we feel about it? that's why i was very supportive of the enzi amendment that he offered. i don't know all the details of the senator's amendment, but the enzi amendment came in and said, look -- it was a mandate on h.h.s., i believe, to take a look at all these things and have a report back within a certain amount of time -- i think it was one year -- on how do we collapse these? how do we -- i agree with the senator. there's way too many conduits into child care, and it is horribly confusing. and all these different requirements and stuff like that, that overlap. it's just confusing. so i just want to ask the senator if he'd looked at the enzi amendment, which gives us some time. and i can assure the senator that our committee, and i'm shiewsh i can speak for senator burr on this, i think we all
agree with the senator from oklahoma. i.t. got tit's got to be fixed. mr. coburn: i supported enzi amendment. i don't think it went far enough because you're not going it look at some of the programs that are outside the purview of that your committee. you have eight different federal dments running these programs coming from eight different sets of authorizations. so the point is, i'm going to work behind the scenes with senator burr, with senator harkin to try accomplish this. now i'd like to call up amendment 2830 and ask -- ms. mikulski: would the senator withhold for a minute before he offers the amendment? mr. coburn: yes. ms. mikulski: well, actually, i want to comment on how i'm going to work together with you. you go ahead and do -- speak and offer your amendments and then i'd like to comment and not engage in clot subsidy -- in kly
asking questions. but i think we're on the same broadband. the presiding officer: is is there an objection to setting aside the pending amendment? without objection, the clerk will report. the clerk: mr. coburn proposes amendment numbered 2830. mr. coburn: i ask that the amendment be considered as read and the desk has a modification of that amendment. the presiding officer: without objection. is there an objection to the modification? the amendment is so modified. mr. coburn: what we were trying to accomplish with this amendment -- and i've clearedtn 0 our side and i think it is be cleared on your side -- is to make sure that the significant amount of money that we spend in this area goes to people that really need it. so all this amendment does is
require a self-certification when you acquire one of these grants that you don't have real assets greater than $1 million. if you do, maybe you ought to be spending your money rather than taxpayers' money on your kids' child care. and that's all this amendment does. it just says, if you got $1 million in assets and all we're putting in there is,ness application they have to put a check in the box, i don't have real assets in excess of $1 million, so we at least know that the vast majority -- and, by the way, 16% of this money has gone to people that are very wealthy in terms of that's vouchers p. and i've got that data. i just don't have it -- wcialtion actually, i may have it with me. i'll pull it up and speak about it in a minute. we want this money to help the people that need help, mott to hel--not to help the people whot need help. that's the purpt of this amendment. if it becomes acceptable to have
a voice vote on this, i have agreed. with that, i'd yield the floor. ms. mikulski: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from maryland. ms. mikulski: before the gentleman from oklahoma either leaves the floor or we proceed in terms of a voice vote, et cetera, first of all, i really want to thank him for his steadfast advocacy in getting more value out of the taxpayers' dollar for the taxpayers' contribution to the federal treasury. he has been a well-known advocate for the consolidation and streamlining of existing programs, and i salute him for that. in this bill, we, going back to 1996, it actually started with streamlining child-care bills. we had four -- in 1996, because i was here during the welfare reform debate and passage, we
had four different child-care bills with four different eligibility requirements with four different levels of bureaucracy, so the money was going into bureaucracy determining eligibility rather than in child care. so in the 1996 welfare reform bill, we consolidated, so we have the child care development block grant. so that's how we got to where we are. the gentleman from oklahoma talks about how -- and he has data that cuts across eight different federal agencies. and i pledge to him, as the chair of the appropriations, to actually sit down and look at this data, put our heads together, and really, with money as tight as it is, the stringent budgets that we're under, particularly when it comes to funding the kind of compelling human needs that are in the
health and human services and education, we want to get more value for the dollar. we don't want to get more bureaucracy for the dollar. so i want to say to the gentleman from oklahoma, as we -- we appreciate his withdrawing his amendment. we know that the gentleman from wyoming, senator enzi, has offered an amendment to get a report as well. but we're going to, i say that as we look at our appropriations for this year, i invite you, sir, with the greatest sincerity and a pledge -- a pledge to you as the word of a senator, let's sit down, review these documents, and let's see how we can put -- put this suggestions that you have in action. i look forward to it and quite frankly i'm seeinger to see what we can get done. mr. president, i yield the